The national body of the RSPCA in Australia has welcomed the passing of world-leading legislation in the ACT today, that recognises animals as sentient beings capable of both physical and mental feelings.
“This is what leadership in animal welfare looks like,” said RSPCA Australia Senior Policy Officer Dr Jed Goodfellow.
“And this arguably positions the ACT as having some of the strongest animal protection legislation, not just in Australia, but in the world.
“This approach reflects the science and is soundly based in evidence.
“Just as importantly, it also reflects the expectations of the community, and applies a commonsense approach to laws protecting animals.
“In many ways, it simply confirms what we have always known about animals – that our furry friends have feelings.
“Anyone who’s ever spent any meaningful time with an animal would have no doubt they’re capable of feeling.
“We don’t treat animals in the same way we do a mobile phone or a car, and nor should the law.
“What distinguishes animals from other property is their sentience, and this is precisely the reason we have animal welfare laws, so expressly recognising that just makes sense.”
Dr Goodfellow also said the RSPCA hopes that reflecting this understanding at a policy and legislative level will encourage a more consistent and principled approach to the development and interpretation of animal welfare law.
“This is truly a historic day for animals in Australia’s history,” he said.
“The RSPCA has been pushing for the legislative recognition of animal sentience for many years, and we hope it will soon become a feature of animal welfare laws around the country,” said Dr Goodfellow.